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Injury Definitions

Hospital Injuries

Most preventable hospital injuries are infections. Hospital-acquired infections are serious illnesses that can cause death. Rapid diagnosis and identification of the responsible microorganism is necessary, so treatment can be started as soon as possible. Hospital-acquired infections are usually related to a procedure or treatment used to diagnose or treat the patient's illness or injury.

A large portion of these infections can be prevented by healthcare workers taking proper precautions when caring for patients.

Hospital-acquired infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. These microorganisms may already be present in the patient's body or may come from the environment, contaminated hospital equipment, healthcare workers, or other patients. Depending on the causal agents involved, an infection may start in any part of the body. A localized infection is limited to a specific part of the body and has local  symptoms. For example, if a surgical wound in the abdomen becomes infected, the area of the wound becomes red, hot, and painful. A generalized infection is one that enters the bloodstream and causes general systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, low blood pressure, or mental confusion.

Hospital-acquired infections may develop from surgical procedures, catheters placed in the urinary tract or blood vessels, or from material from the nose or mouth that is inhaled into the lungs. The most common types of hospital-acquired infections are urinary tract infections (UTIs), pneumonia, and surgical wound infections. Infections are generally treated with antibiotics.

Other common preventable hospital injuries are due to medication errors, failure to monitor a patient, improper reading and evaluation of imaging films and laboratory data and other forms of health care neglect.

For related information go to: Elder Abuse, Infection, Insurance Bad Faith, Medical Malpractice and Nursing Home Neglect.

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